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Embarking on a new journey

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Mr Seow Poh Eng (centre) with his team.

LOCAL contract manufacturing firm Watson EP Industries was one of the first few companies to adopt the enhanced Business Excellence framework, which was revised last year to reflect a greater focus on people development and innovation capabilities.

The company undertook SPRING Singapore's Capability Development Grant (CDG) to, among other things, prepare itself for the BE certification assessment, and develop a strategic roadmap to build innovation capabilities.

Watson EP managing director Seow Poh Eng shared his thoughts on how the BE certification helped the organisation.

Business Times: What is your company's key business?

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Established in 1977 in Singapore, Watson EP provides contract manufacturing services for a wide range of plastic and audio products.

We have manufacturing plants in Singapore and China, and our key competencies include product design and development, 3D printing, tool design and fabrication, injection moulding, electroplating, PCBA, spray painting, printing and full product assembly.

We serve customers from the audio, pest control, consumer and industrial electronics, telecommunications, data storage, measurement, medical, automation and aerospace markets.

BT: How has the enhanced BE framework that was introduced last year benefited your organisation?

We used the enhanced BE framework when we started preparing for our BE assessment. At first we found it overwhelming, but as we progressed and started sharing more information among our team, we identified gaps and took steps to address it.

We explored and evaluated our strengths and weaknesses more carefully and in some of our strengths we found weaknesses and made action plans to improve. In some weaknesses, we found strengths and changed our mindset towards these weaknesses.

We also shared more about our company direction, initiatives and dreams to our staff and our team bond grew stronger. Our staff's morale has improved after having achieved the certification and we want them to have more to look forward to in the future.

BT: What was your reason for adopting the BE framework?

I attended a McKinsey CEO leadership workshop organised by SPRING and was introduced to the BE framework by SPRING officers then. I decided to start our BE journey to learn and adopt the best practices based on the framework.

BT: What were some of the challenges in adopting the framework?

Being a SME with 40 years of history, there were new things we had to introduce which we had never been done. In the past, we may have thought the new initiatives were not necessary, or were just resistant to change. As such, we had to rethink our business model and determine if it was robust enough, and also decide if our future direction had considered all angles based on the BE framework. Some of my team members and I had some sleepless nights during this period. It was a rather stressful time.

BT: What are the next steps in your BE journey?

We are just at the beginning of the journey with much improvements to make. But we now dare to pursue bigger dreams and will continue to build upon the framework with the best practices to continue to strengthen our organisation.

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